Press release for Spanish media introducing illegal letting lobbying association – ALOTCA

This is my translation of the press release that was issued to the Spanish media for today’s meeting:

In respect of the so-called “Special touristic action plan of inspection and control of establishments or accommodation units and the diagnosis of places exploited touristically without prior communication of starting activity or lacking authorisation” being carried out by the Inspection and Fines Department of the Canarian Government’s Board of Touristic Regulation and Promotion (presidencia)

a meeting has been called on Thursday 15 March 2012 at 10am in the CDTCA Centre in Avda Las Jarcias opposite the IES in El Galeón.

The meeting will present the Association of those affected by the Canarian Tourism Regulation Law (Asociación de afectados por la ley de ordenación de turismo de Canarias) – ALOTCA – and will set out the reasons which have motivated the organizers of the event to create the association.

The above mentioned “action plan” is creating social alarm in Canarian touristic areas given that, according to official sources, more than 7,500 administrative procedures have been opened imposing fines on apartment owners and non-resident family investors, as well as small family businesses, fines ranging from at least €18,000 up to €60,000 in some cases. No family economy can withstand such a level of sanction at the present time.

Although this campaign of sanctions, unprecedented since the passing of Tourism Regulation Law 7/1995, has a commendable objective (control of accommodation units without licence or in irregular situation), it was not preceded by any information campaign and is therefore creating a state of mind among foreign investors that is worrying given the government’s disproportionate punitive level (€18,000 minimum fine for an apartment in an irregular situation).

The existing current legal framework in these islands and the touristic moratorium in the concession of new licences prevents the legalization of these units. In turn, the disappearance, liquidation or insolvency of previous operators of touristic apartments have placed foreign investors and apartment owners in a marginal position without possibility of regularization.

Indeed, the autonomous Government appears to have opted for a protectionist “all inclusive” model of tourism offered in the main by the hotels in the tourist areas, but it has not taken into account that this model is extremely damaging for small family businesses (restaurants, taxis, shops etc.,) which depend on the tourism of those who prefer to rent apartments privately.

For their part, some companies operating with exploitation licences in the touristic apartment market offer their services to owners through contracts with intolerable and abusive conditions since, protected by the unity of exploitation principle, they are operating in a sector of the market that rewards and encourages a monopoly.

In the midst of a global recession and with a property market crisis without precedent in the recent history of these islands, when there are ever decreasing numbers of foreign investors prepared to buy property here, and in an economy that is already suffering, all we needed was a plan of this magnitude (7,500 inspections carried out mainly on the internet) to give such a devastating message to foreigners.

Before this is exposed in the foreign media we need to raise the awareness of the relevant authorities so that they apply the power of the law with restraint and in accordance with the social reality of our islands.

Our association considers that it is possible to seek a consensual solution with the Canarian touristic authorities which will benefit all sectors which are threatened (touristic apartment owners, hoteliers, agencies, taxis, shopkeepers, etc.), and for this reason we have asked them repeatedly to meet us. To date, these requests have been ignored by the administration.

Continuing with this process of fines will produce an unprecedented exodus of investors as well as the desertification of some touristic areas which cannot compete legally with the hotels.

Association of those affected by the Canarian tourism regulation law
Asociación de afectados por la ley de ordenación de turismo de Canarias – ALOTCA


  1. ALOTCA meeting 15th March2012
    Janet- thanks for your response to me earlier.
    I attended the meeting on Thursday and was pleased to see such a large turnout for the initial public forum, hopefully it will grow in strength from here!
    I only have one comment and it is in relation to the Petition form – I think there could be a brief front cover in English and Spanish to explain what the petition is about as the actual form in Spanish appears only to refer to use of Data collected.
    I think this would make it easier to gather support .
    Unfortunately collecting NIE/Passport numbers is problematic as not everyone carries their documents with them, but we will just have to persevere !
    I´m sure ALOTCA supporters will manage to collect the 15,000+ signatures required and you can advise where to return them to.
    Regards & thanks

  2. Author

    Hi John, and many thanks. I thought there was some confusion over that form – it’s the association form, not the petition. The petition itself will be online shortly. The form from today (and one will be on here soon as well) was for the actual association. I’ve tried to clarify this on the minutes from the meeting that I’ve just this moment posted. Could you have a look and see if it’s now clear?

  3. Thanks Janet- yes there was definitely confusion over the sheet!
    My Friend collected it and gave me a copy later, so I did´t get to read it till later, that´s why I was confused as well .
    Your explanation makes more sense .
    The minutes seem to me to be a fair reflection of what was said at meeting though I´m a bit concerned over lack of clarity on resurrecting a dormant Touristic Licence as we are starting this process.
    I will pass on your comments to others I know in our area and await some feedback.

  4. Hi,
    Is it possible to inform me how to find out if , a owner has been fined, if they have a apartment in a residential complex and have been advertising on holidaylettings,please advise Tom

  5. Author

    Hi Tom, just google your NIE with “BOC” – if a fine has been published that will find it. The site for the BOC is HERE, but it’s published daily …

    Please bear in mind that the only fines which are published are those where a letter has not been able to be delivered.

  6. Dear Janet,
    With regard to Tom Birchalls question dated 29th May 2012 where he asked `how to find out if an owner has been fined`. You replied `just Google your NIE with BOC` to see if a fine has been published. I have looked at the site for the BOC which you say is published daily but I couldn`t understand where to enter my NIE (the BOC of course is in Spanish which Had me confused) I would be grateful if you could help me to see if I can make more sense of the BOC to see if my name/address is on the list.
    Thank you Janet for all your hard work and I continue to follow the site avidly.
    Kind regards Peter
    Thank you Janet

  7. Author

    If you look towards the top left you’ll see a box with “Búsqueda rápida” above it. Put it in there. You will need to search each year, though, and I’ve found that the search isn’t totally secure. The best thing is just to “google your NIE with the letters ‘BOC'”, and not go into that site at all.

  8. Janet,
    I have just looked at my BOC notification & another in November 2011 both of them for the same complex the fine is 18000 but I have checked another BOC for March 2012 again in the same complex it is now 13800 are all the new fines now 13800.

    Also I have heard that the first fines issued in July 2011 have now all been quashed is this true

  9. Author

    No, fines are still 18,000 generally. THIS for example is June this year, for 18,000.

    Re the quashing, no, not true. (where did you hear this?)

    Some have run out of time, others are “rejected” because the Government exceeded the three months within which they could accept the final Recurso de Alzada stage.

    The proof that it is untrue is that we now have fines from July 2011 going to Court for appeal! If they’d been quashed this would not be happening.

  10. From another owner who had spoken to Jose (may have got the wrong end of the stick ).

    Still dont know why an owner in the same position as us has only been fined 13800.

  11. Author

    It’s not a universal 18,000 – if it were that would be cause enough to defend on grounds of broad brush fining, which is against the constitution.

  12. Janet

    I’ve been if fined 18k and am on appeal with Jose. One of the defences he stated was that it seems most are 18k and this is illegal in itself.

    One of the defences in the appeal is this..

    This is as you say broad brush….

  13. Author

    Yes, it would be if ALL were 18,000. Some aren’t. They are still going to use the defence, though, that the very fact that MOST are is broad brush. Does that explain?

    Part of the confusion here lies in the different legal systems. Here, we try various defences – even when they contradict each other, or even when we have no hope that they’ll succeed. Sometimes one part of a multi-faceted defence will work. We cannot know what will hit the right note with any given judge.

    It’s a different legal system, judges don’t have the same sort of interpretative and precedential freedom that judges do in a common-law legal system such as exists in the UK.

  14. I liken it to getting a very very expensive speeding fine !!!

    No warnings! no trial! just a notification in the post.

    You can cop the fine or you can appeal and it goes before a magistrate who will simply review the facts and any mitigation.

    Thats the nearest I can compare it with in the UK.

    I think the very best outcome possible will be a reduction to the minumum fine under the “grave” gategory ie 1500E.

  15. Personally I think it could have been handled much better.

    Yes I should no the law, but do not know the full laws of the UK never mind Spain. To me an initial letter from turismo delivered to my complex to warn me of a potential breach of the law.

    If I then continue to flout it, yes a fine but a reasonable one. If I continue to do it then that’s when the figures being used here would come into play…

    Fining people for that amount when it’s clear a vast majority of people don’t know about the law is morally wrong.

  16. Author

    But even in the UK, ignorance of the law is no defence … sadly, as far as this situation is concerned.

  17. its even more unfair and dispropotionate than that kidder. We have been fined 21000 euro for not having complaint book and not displaying the sign that these forms are available. We are on a dormant touristic complex, so we are getting tourists into the resort just as the canary economy needs and into beds that are intended for that purpose. both infractions are basically trivial misdemeanors , worthy of perhaps a warning and after that maybe a penalty. The canary government are beyong disgusting in the way they have gone about this crackdown. They have set out to persecute and penalise people who love their islands and have contributed greatly to the economic wellbeing of them.

  18. Agreed but let me give you an example…

    Someone who claims means tested benefit can only have a certain amount of savings before it affects benefit…. Most people do not know what that savings amount is…. Some people mistakenly go over the limit, some people do it on purpose and do not disclose….

    Both technically break the law….

    This is dealt with usually by a warning to the customer of the error of there ways….dependant on how much people have in savings…

    If they do it again when they are then aware of the savings amount, it is then the law really kicks and and deals with each case seperately and appropriately…..

    It’s a logical and fair way to deal with these things…and gives people the chance to act on the law otherwise face the consequences…

  19. agreed kidder, but we are all learning about the cultural difference between our country and spain. The diference is amazing in the way they have gone about this crackdown. It certainley does not fit with a modern europeon democracy. Spain needs to move towards more liberal standards of law enforcement, the dictatorship is 35 years in the past, but spain needs to move away from acting like the bad old days still it seems.

  20. I have a question? The boc, does this just report on people who have had a fine and have not been contacted directly? Does anyone have numbers for the past 12 months recorded on the boc? (approx)

    My assumption is that if it’s on the boc and people haven’t appealed after the 15 day given appeal period, the fine is then recorded against that property?

    This given that most people recorded on the boc don’t know about it presumebly?

  21. you go on bolutin when postal service of fine has returned undelivered, eg no one at property to sign for it or collect from post office later. As you say without appeal fine would stand, and so many uk residents may not know of fine at all.

  22. Would it be possible for a leaflet to be written in Spanish, advising of the strict implimentation of this law and the effects that it is having, or will have on businesses such as taxi drivers, bars and restaurants etc, such that some of us could download it and print copies that could then be distributed at airports to taxis and other tourist establishments, who may be blissfully unaware of the effect this law would have on their trades?

  23. 11Kidder – I can tell you that the number of fines issued on the BOC between Jan 2011 and up until 3/4 weeks ago was a mere 103. I am not sure whether the BOC covers fines for all the islands I would assume so as the fines under the area Gobierno Tourismo.

    This I found particularly odd as I thought many would be on the website and would not have been received and signed for. I was incorrect – apparently most fines have been posted and have been signed for either here in the island or in the country of the owner – as you know they have gained your address and will have been given others too.

    11Kidder and Andrew – you are not completely correct about the fines on the BOC either – I had heard this but now know of one gentleman whose name was on the BOC on 14th Novemeber 2011 with a fine for 18K. He did not find out about the fine until about February/March 2012 when someone told him. At that time he visited a lawyer to find out details and appeal on his behalf before returning to UK. He came back out here in June 2012 and this is what he wrote to me – although not everything is totally cleared up (by that I think he means he has not received the certificate to say his fine has been quashed) in fact it has been. So to say that those posted on the BOC simply stand if it is not appealed in 15 days cannot be true. I would think it is more a case of once you know about it and then take any action to find out what it is – it is from that point that the 15 days appeal stage starts. maybe there is a time frame of a fine sitting on the BOC when the full amount comes into play – maybe Janet knows what this might be.

  24. Author

    The time frame is 15 days from publication in the BOC.

  25. Author

    These comments now aren’t about the press release. Could I ask anyone with a question to post it in the new Q&A section HERE? Many thanks.

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